Island Life by David Slack

Whaddya mean you didn't get the memo?

TO: Spin Doctors, Flacks, Flunkies and all other Political Operatives.

FROM: Evil Thought Control High Command

RE: 2005 New Zealand Election. Rules of Engagement

Please disregard all previous memos.

The Monday night debate has exposed a spin disaster. We have four weeks of the election to go and they already hate it. The letters to the editor and talkback calls are up in arms about the tone of the thing. Personal attacks, rugby-match jeering and animal noises are all out. Blistering ad hominem attacks are polling very badly. Very badly indeed.

It even looks as though we might have gone too far with the bribing. Some of them are starting to say they want to hear about other policies.

This is a mess. The whole package is going down about as well as a cup of cold fat with a hair in it. So. Change of tack.

Don has given us the lead:

-No picking on women
-No shouting
-Good manners

Some of you slobs are going to have to try and quit the habit of a lifetime, but tough. The punters have spoken. We have no choice but to eat the dog food.

Here are a few examples of the style change we're looking for:

NOT GOOD: This student loan bribe is an outrage. I can think of nothing Helen Clark would not to do to buy another term in office.
GOOD: Your student loan policy suggests a generosity of spirit to which the fairer sex is touchingly prone.

NOT GOOD: It is offensive to suggest that I would abandon our nuclear-free policy, and it demeans the office of Prime Minister for you to say it of me.
GOOD: I fear you are mistaken, dear lady.

NOT GOOD: Your kitchen cabinet is a menace -loaded to the cupboards with revolutionary dykes.
GOOD: It is a tragedy that women of Miss Clark's era were urged to abandon the quiet dignity of a life in the kitchen.

NOT GOOD: What a load of socialist balls.
GOOD: Madam! Marxism is not a polite topic for after-dinner conversation, not even among men.

NOT GOOD: What sort of Prime Minister greets the Queen in a pair of trousers?
GOOD: I trust the selection of my wardrobe to my better half.

NOT GOOD: Let me give the Prime Minister an economics lesson: Big government - very bad. Small government - better. Minimal government - splendid.
GOOD: Economic matters are, I have to say, simply too weighty to be left to the woman-folk.

That should be enough for starters. M, if you don't get it or if you have any questions, email us. If any of the rest of you think it's too hard, you know where the door is. This is by no means the most challenging spin job anyone's ever had. Just ask David Young. From here to September 17, this is going to be our staple diet.